Posted on Aug 16, 2023, 1 p.m.
Dietary changes may help to reduce hot flashes that are associated with menopause by 88%, according to a study published in the journal Menopause by the North American Menopause Society, the researchers report that participants lost on average eight pounds in 12 weeks and the dietary intervention was about as effective as hormone replacement therapy (HRT is 70-90% effective) at reducing menopausal hot flashes without the associated risks.
The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS trial) found that adhering to a plant-based diet that was rich in soy helped to reduce moderate to severe hot flashes by 88% as well as promoted weight loss on average of eight pounds in 12 weeks, the difference is that making dietary changes is simpler and carries significantly less risk of medical complications than HRT.
“We do not fully understand yet why this combination works but it seems that these three elements are key—avoiding animal products, reducing fat, and adding a serving of soybeans,” explains lead researcher Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee and adjunct professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “Our results mirror the diets of places in the world, like pre-Westernized Japan and modern-day Yucatán Peninsula, where a low-fat, plant-based diet including soybeans is more prevalent and where postmenopausal women experience fewer symptoms.”
84 postmenopausal women who reported 2+ hot flashes/day were included in this study. The women were randomly assigned into either a control group that made no dietary changes or an intervention group that consumed a low-fat vegan diet which included a half a cup of cooked soybeans every day of the study for 12 weeks.
The results of this randomized and controlled clinical trial are the second phase of a two-part trial, the results of the first trial were also published in the journal Menopause in 2021. The first trial was conducted during autumn which raised questions about whether the symptomatic improvements may have been attributed to the cooler fall temperatures. However, women who began the study as the weather warmed up experienced the same benefits which ruled out the possible effect of the outside temperatures.
“These new results suggest that a diet change should be considered as a first-line treatment for troublesome vasomotor symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes,” explains Dr. Barnard. “This study demonstrates the effectiveness of a dietary intervention for menopausal symptoms,” Dr. Barnard adds “As well, it is precisely the diet that would be expected to reduce the health concerns of many women reaching menopause: an increasing risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and memory problems.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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